A Travellerspoint blog


via Yanbu

sunny 75 °F


We docked at Yanbu and quickly departed for Medina. Our bus travelled along beside the Aramco refinery that is so large (miles and miles of installations) that we couldn’t see the site where the Yemenis attacked last week. Everything is immense here. And everything is under construction. We were amazed to see a sign in English on one construction supplier saying ABB, the corporation our son Will works for.

The three hour trip to Medina was almost filled with an enthusiastic non-stop recounting of Islam and the prophet (peace be upon him). In the last half hour we women were given abayas and hijabs and told that we must cover up BEFORE leaving the bus. It is very difficult to put on a full body garment and wrap one’s head while standing in a moving aisle without a mirror. We all coped.

Then off to a hotel for lunch, passing by a stunning car park and magnificent buildings. Like Jeddah, Medina appears to have been totally constructed in the blink of an eye – there is NOTHING ancient or dated. The purple tower pictured is the elevator bank in the hotel. While there, a number of men passed through the lobby wearing large bath towels. They were making an umrah, we were told, a sort of mini-pilgrimage to Medina and Mecca preceded by cleansing rituals and refraining from certain activities.

Following lunch, we walked to the Prophet’s Mosque, the second mosque built by Mohammed (pbuh) and the second holiest site in Islam (after the Kaaba). We, of course, couldn’t enter the holy ground but got a photo through the gate. While waiting, two encounters:
1) a charming young woman befriended Hope; only her eyes were visible but they twinkled and she asked for a photo for herself and wanted Hope to take a photo home with her.
2) a grumpy woman shook her finger crying, “Cover your hair” while a man grabbed Hope’s hijab and yanked it forward.

Our visit continued to a museum displaying scale models of places in Mohammed’s life (pbuh). The Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, we were told, were built on empty land, certainly not on the site of the Temple Mount.

Then to Quba Mosque, the first that Mohammed (pbuh) built. Two things happened here:
1) We watched a group of eight Muslim women eat a meal while gathered on a curbside, while the men sat at a table behind a wall.
2) We got to use the toilets (aaaaaaargh, blech, ugggh). The bus restrooms were out of order because the water tank was malfunctioning; permeating the air was a strong aroma was of fecal material covered up from time to time with a spritz of Arab perfume.

After our three hour trip back to the ship (peace be upon her), our butlers waited outside holding a welcome banner.

Posted by HopeEakins 11:19 Archived in Saudi Arabia

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What does pbuh mean? This is not a fun country!

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pbuh=peace be upon him

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